An adult guardianship can be a wise choice for adults who can no longer take care of themselves and/or manage their property. It allows a trusted person to make important decisions on the vulnerable adult’s behalf.
There are many situations in life that could result in the need for an adult guardianship.
You may be the parent of a disabled child who is approaching adulthood but still needs a guardian to help manage their affairs.
Alternatively, a family member or loved one’s sudden injury or illness could also require you to become a guardian, either in the short or long term.
Starting the adult guardianship process
While it can be an act of love for one person to act as another’s guardian, it’s also a serious responsibility. If you seek to become a guardian, the court will want to know that you are trustworthy and will make decisions that are in the best interests of your ward.
The adult guardianship process in Florida can be especially overwhelming and complex if you are trying to manage your emotions and mentally prepare for being a guardian at the same time.
The process begins with filing a petition for the court to determine whether the person lacks capacity to make decisions on their own.
It is best to work with an experienced attorney from the start, to make sure your petition is complete and accurate and served upon all the proper parties.
After the filing and service and petition part of the process is complete, you will need to attend a court hearing to get the adult guardianship approved.
Who attends the hearing?
Once a hearing date and time is scheduled with the court, notice is given to all interested parties. These can include other members of the adult’s family or any agencies that have worked with the adult who might want to attend the hearing to voice objections.
The people or entities that receive notice are not required to attend the hearing, but they can if they wish. There is a chance the people at the hearing will be you, the adult in need of the guardian, your attorney, a judge and court staff.
Why is a hearing necessary?
The purpose of the hearing is to determine if you are fit to serve as a guardian for the adult. The court will also confirm that the adult is incapacitated and in need of a guardian.
This is typically done through submission of any forms or documents the court requires and your testimony. The judge may ask you basic questions about yourself and the situation requiring the need for an adult guardian.
If the judge concludes that all requirements have been met, that the adult needs a guardian and that you are a suitable guardian, a court order is issued establishing you as guardian.
The court retains the power to change guardians or terminate you as the guardian, although there must usually be a compelling reason to do so.